It’s Time to Look the Part: Getting Into Character

TL;DR: As orthodontic team members, especially Treatment Coordinators, we can learn a lot from the Disney princesses when it comes to how we show up to work “in character.”

Off-Duty Princesses

In 2018, Walt Disney Animation released a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph called Ralph Breaks the Internet. If you haven’t seen it, do yourself a favor and check it out. It’s a delight. For anyone who’s spent more than about 30 minutes on the internet, it’s packed full of sight gags and hysterical references. But I digress.

Princess LoungewearOne of the funniest bits of the film involves a scene where, for the first time, we see all the Disney princesses together… off duty. The juxtaposition of iconic characters we’ve all grown up with, dressed in lounge wear, is as funny as it is jarring. From the old school royalty of Snow White & Cinderella, to 90s renaissance era with Ariel & Mulan, all the way up to Frozen’s Elsa & Anna, and even Moana… they’re all there! And the Easter Eggs on their shirts and accessories are priceless (click the image to see them!).

Where am I going with this though? Glad you asked! See, one of the reasons this “bit” lands so well is that our experience with these princesses is intricately tied to their appearance. Much of their identity in the films where we were first introduced to them was directly linked to the way they looked and what they wore.

Cinderella had her ball gown & glass slippers; Mulan disguised herself as a soldier; Elsa changed her wardrobe to match her new ice castle. The look matters.

“On Stage” Cast Members

And let’s take it a step further. At the Disney parks, all of the staff are referred to as “Cast Members.” They’re an integral part of the overall entertainment experience that families enjoy when they visit “The Happiest Place on Earth.” They even go so far as to designate the public areas of the parks as “On Stage” and the areas only accessible to employees as “Off Stage.”

In fact, before going “On Stage” cast members are greeted by a mirror, and a sign reminding them to check their appearance. No one wants to catch Princess Jasmine on her smoke break, or Rapunzel with a ball cap instead of long hair! It breaks the magic.

Bringing it to the Office

So, when it comes to your ortho office, are you dressed and ready to be “On Stage” for your patients? Whether we like it or not, every member of the team, from the Doc on down, has a role to play when performing the “New Patient SHOW.” And if you’re going to be on stage, you better be “in character!” Let’s break down some of the common areas where there’s a little room for improvement.

While this may seem obvious to some, and unnecessary to others, all of these categories play an extremely important role in the workplace!

Hygiene: The first, and most important area, is your hygiene. Whether you’re behind a computer screen most of the day, or running from clinic chair to clinic chair, taking regular showers, using deodorant (that is actually effective), and brushing & flossing your teeth, are a must in today’s business world. You may think your hygiene doesn’t interfere with your work abilities, but something as simple as smelling bad can be distracting. And if it’s distracting, it’a taking away from your performance.

Grooming: Can you remember when you last cut your hair or trimmed your beard? Today’s Orthodontic professionals should be well-groomed, clean-cut, and present a well-maintained appearance to their patients and their patients’ parents. The days of stink, or sloppy looking professionals, are for teenagers working at a landscaping company. Some people will take grooming to the extreme. But at the very least, Orthodontic professionals should have appropriate hair, nails, and makeup (if any). Do you think it’s acceptable to come to work with wet hair? Or with some five o’clock shadow? Do you think this will make your patients feel like you’re prepared for them?

Work Attire: Everyone has the right to express themselves through fashion, as long as it respects the company dress code. Ask yourself, “Does my attire represents me AND my place of employment?” Orthodontic offices will usually state whether they have casual, business casual, or a professional dress code. Try to find a professional look that’s well respected by both your company and the “company” you’re communicating with. Just remember, the way you present yourself reflects on your employer, and the company’s brand overall. You’re selling a service, and a product, so you need to look your best when doing it! Confidence will soar as well!

Let’s Be Clear

Apathy vs IntentionQuick point of clarification. This is not some modified, misogynistic version of “you’d be a lot prettier if you smiled more!” This is not a patriarchal call to “pretty” yourself up, or simply to wear more makeup. Your personal level of style is irrelevant here. Whether you’re more granola, organic, minimalist, or more “I don’t leave the house without a manicure and my face on,” it’s fine. We love you just the same! But however you’d prepare for an interview, special occasion, or a date, that’s the level you need to bring to the office!

And let’s be honest ladies, we all know when we’re phoning it in. That skipped-the-shower, throw-my-hair-up, pull-on-my-scrubs look may be convenient, but it’s not our best foot forward. I know it, and you know it. This isn’t about “Pretty” vs “Ugly.” This is “Apathy” vs “Intention.”

Side note: For my TCs, we’ve done the research! Scrubs or business casual, your closing percentage can still be lights out, as long as YOU feel confident. And confidence comes from that last 10%: the extra attention to your hair, makeup, accessories, etc. If you feel good, you’ll play at your best, and your numbers will show it!


Ultimately, whether we like it or not, the way you present yourself is important, especially in the workplace! When you look good, you feel good, and so will everyone around you. Not only that, but your confidence will be contagious to others! Docs, get with your office manager, or HR, because this should absolutely be spelled out in the employee handbook. It’s also a good idea to have this as one of the areas to touch on during yearly reviews.

At the end of the day, if you dress like a princess, you’ll feel like a princess. And if YOU feel good, you’ll help ensure your patients feel the magic when they’re in your office!

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