Respecting the Elderly: Handling Negative Comments on Tattoos at Work

In today’s diverse and inclusive society, tattoos are becoming increasingly accepted as a form of self-expression. However, in certain environments, particularly those frequented by older generations, tattoos may still be viewed negatively. This can be a challenging situation for individuals who work in such settings and have visible tattoos. For instance, if you work in a café where the majority of your customers are elderly, you might occasionally receive negative comments about your tattoos. The key to handling such situations is to respond with respect and understanding, acknowledging the generational differences in perspectives while maintaining your own dignity and self-expression.

Understanding the Generational Gap

Firstly, it’s important to understand where the negative comments are coming from. Older generations often have different views on tattoos, seeing them as rebellious or unprofessional. This is not a reflection on you, but rather a reflection of the societal norms they grew up with. Understanding this can help you respond with empathy and patience.

Responding with Respect

When faced with a negative comment about your tattoos, it’s crucial to respond with respect. You might say something like, “I understand that tattoos might not be everyone’s cup of tea. They are a way for me to express myself, just like how someone might express themselves through their clothing or hairstyle.” This response acknowledges their viewpoint without agreeing with it, and it also provides a gentle reminder that everyone has their own way of self-expression.

Redirecting the Conversation

Another strategy is to redirect the conversation towards a more positive topic. For example, if a customer comments negatively on your tattoo, you could respond by saying, “Yes, it’s quite a conversation starter! By the way, have you tried our new caramel latte? It’s been very popular.” This tactic not only diffuses the situation but also keeps the focus on your role as a café employee.

Seeking Support from Management

If the negative comments become persistent or offensive, it might be necessary to seek support from your management. They can provide guidance on how to handle such situations and may even step in if necessary. Remember, you have the right to a respectful workplace, and that includes respect for your personal appearance.


Dealing with negative comments about tattoos at work, especially from the elderly, can be challenging. However, by understanding the generational gap, responding with respect, redirecting the conversation, and seeking support when necessary, you can navigate these situations with grace and professionalism. Remember, your tattoos are a part of who you are, and you have every right to express yourself in a way that feels authentic to you.