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That Totally Sexist Thing My Son Said

It was the perfect thing to choose for movie night. I'm always trying to steer my boys away from the violent superhero shows that they seem to love so much, so when I found "Sofia the First: The Curse of Princess Ivy," I figured I was onto something. After all, it had the word "curse" in the title. Surely my boys would like that?

They were sold. We settled in for a fun night of family-friendly entertainment—popcorn at the ready, M&Ms in a bowl. I love watching "Sofia the First"—it satisfies my need for princess stuff (being the mom of two boys), and it's a good show with great messages.

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Princess Ivy arrived on the screen. She befriends Sofia and her sister and then immediately betrays them. The action of the movie was about to begin.

My 5-year-old turned to me, confused. "Is Princess Ivy evil?" he asked.

"Yes, honey," I replied, with laughter in my voice. "Of course she is. She's the bad guy."

I mean, she sang a whole song about it and everything. There was no way my son could be confused about Ivy's intentions.

Yet he was.

I explained to my son that outer appearances don't necessarily tell you what's on the inside.

"But she can't be evil, she's so pretty!" my son told me. I nearly fell off the couch. I couldn't believe that all this time, my 5-year-old was equating "pretty" with "nice."

My husband laughed—he'd apparently fallen into that trap once or twice himself back in his 20s. But it wasn't funny. (OK, it was. A little bit.) It was time to teach my son about appearances.

I explained to my son that outer appearances don't necessarily tell you what's on the inside. Relying on them could get you into a lot of trouble. (As Princess Sofia soon discovered.)

My son argued back about the people in his life who were good and also very pretty: his grandmothers, his teachers and even me. He had me there. I'm a sucker for a compliment.

So, we talked about how sometimes someone can have a pretty outside, but they have an unattractive inside. And someone can have an unattractive outside, but they can have a pretty inside. He seemed to understand.

My son had something to teach me that night, too.

"What's the most important thing?" I asked my son, almost scared to hear his answer. "Is it better to be pretty on the outside or pretty on the inside?"

"You should be pretty on the inside," my son told me. I exhaled a breath I hadn't realized I'd been holding.

"That's right," I said.

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"But you should also smile," my son continued. "A big smile will always make you prettier."

My son had something to teach me that night, too.

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