Deliberately Painful Clothing
Some people are willing to suffer some pain or discomfort for the sake of fashion
. And then there's these
folks, who deliberately don clothing that hurts them for non-fashionable reasons. Often, they do so as a sign of piety. In other cases, they do it as a form of penance. Either way, they tend not to be trendsetters.
Western culture actually has a word for this - cilice
. Traditionally, cilices
were garments or undergarments worn close to the skin and made from coarse cloth or animal hair. They were deliberately designed to irritate the skin, and in some cases, they also included twigs and thin wires for added discomfort. In modern religious parlance, cilice
is now an umbrella term for any item of clothing designed to cause discomfort.
A sub-trope of The Penance
Anime & Manga
- In Berserk, main character Guts wears the berserker armor, which snaps his bones and tears his flesh as it slowly eats away at his soul.
- After becoming the only active member of the New Warriors to survive the Stamford Incident, in which 612 people - many of them kids - died, Robbie Baldwin, formerly known as Speedball, started calling himself Penance and donned a new costume, the inside of which was lined with 612 spikes that constantly pierced his flesh, to remind him of all the people who died. This was also because his guilt over the mass death made him psychosomatically incapable of using his powers unless he was in pain.
- In Astro City, the original Confessor wears a cross on his costume, which leaves him in constant pain because he's a vampire. He does this because he's a fallen priest who acts as a superhero for penance.
- Marshal Law has barbed wire wrapped around his arm as a symbol of his self-loathing, although his Super Soldier augmentation makes it impossible for it to actually hurt.
- In The Da Vinci Code, the numerary Silas wears a spiked chain around his right thigh.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, the Warrior's Sons and the Poor Fellows, the militant wings of the Faith of the Seven, wear hair shirts.
- In A Christmas Carol, Marley's ghost wears heavy chains as penance for his sins in life.
- In The Master and Margarita, Margarita wears metal undies at Satan's ball. They keep cutting her skin, but she never complains, because all the other ladies at the ball are stark naked.
- In the Dresden Files novel Storm Front, Harry is given an amulet that belongs to the man he's been hired to locate. It's made from a dead scorpion, and Harry muses about how nasty it would be to wear against bare skin, where its pincers could catch in a man's chest hairs or scratch the top of a woman's breasts; unfortunately, wearing a shirt in between would spoil whatever magical benefit it might confer.
- On The Big Bang Theory, Leonard forgot to return a VHS tape that Sheldon rented, and as punishment has to wear a very itchy Homemade Sweater From Hell with nothing underneath until he can return it.
- In one episode of How I Met Your Mother, Marshall wears a leather bracelet because it makes him look "tough" to Lily and it turns him on, but throughout the episode, his hand gets more and more swollen because he's allergic to the leather, and by the end it's like a balloon.
- In Hex, Raphael briefly persuades Ella to wear a spiked bracelet as punishment for her sexual attraction to Malachi.
- The Bible: A lot of Old Testament Prophets would wear hair shirts. John the Baptist wore one, made of camel hair. Often people would wear them while doing penance for sins. It's also translated as "sackcloth". i.e. burlap-like material.
- Followers of Slaanesh wears these in Warhammer and Warhammer 40K, though it's less repentance and more getting a kick from the sensations, as well as powering their god.
- The Pain Glove, despite its name, covers the entire body. It's used to cause pain without damaging the body, and is extensively used by the (good guy) Imperial Fists chapter to continuously strengthen themselves or for spiritual reasons.
- In Pathfinder the worshipers of Zun'Kuthon, god of pain, often wear extreme versions of this kind of clothing, which is sometimes embedded in their flesh so extensively that it can't be removed without killing them. Giving and receiving pain are both considered religious experiences among them.
- In Tartuffe, the titular character wears a hair shirt... but in a sign that his supposed piety is all an act, he wears the shirt inside out, so that he doesn't actually feel any discomfort.
- In the Dragon Age universe, Qunari mages, called saarebas, all wear heavy chains and masks to make it hard for them to move freely. It causes them a considerable amount of pain, but being Qunari, they willingly submit to such treatment.
- In Disgaea: Hour of Darkness, flavor text for healers say they wear barbed clothing as self-inflicted punishment for being healers.