Can you recommend a substitute for a hairshirt?
August 2, 2014 6:59 AM   Subscribe

I seek to be a constant (low-level) state of pain and discomfort. Hairshirts, though, seem unhygienic, difficult to purchase, and likely to fall apart. Can anybody recommend a good substitute? Thanks. (Spiritual reasons.)
posted by Opengreen to Religion & Philosophy (18 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
BDSM people are really good at this but I'm not sure where, specifically, to point you.

Underwear that doesn't fit would be my first inclination.
posted by the young rope-rider at 7:10 AM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Tiny stones in your shoes? I read about this in a story about simulating old age. You could also wear weights all the time. Or just get old ...
posted by amtho at 7:10 AM on August 2, 2014

I was thinking about shoes. If you're a man, buy a pair a half-size too small. If you're a woman, buy a cheap pair of high heels.
posted by workerant at 7:11 AM on August 2, 2014

i don't understand why hairshirts would be unhygienic - i think you could find someone on etsy who makes their own wool yarn who would knit/weave you up something from a less smoothed yarn, which gets pretty close to coarse goat hair.

and because this is the internet there is actually a website to purchase hairshirts made of sackcloth. they don't specify if they're using the old or new definition of sackcloth.

the shoes thing wouldn't work if you're using it for catholic spiritual reasons because it's my understanding that it's forbidden to use anything that would cause actual harm.
posted by nadawi at 7:15 AM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

The term you're looking for is cilice. I think more modern ones are made of metal chains.

I'm at work, but expanding on the young rope-rider's idea, Whipipedia is a good source for safety-oriented information about bondage equipment.
posted by kagredon at 7:16 AM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

What about a very low-grade, thin wool sweater? It may be that I'm ultra-sensitive, but if I wear cheap wool (would that I could afford cashmere, oy!) the parts that touch my bare arms get very itchy and uncomfortable after a short while. On a bare chest/stomach, I'd think it would be pretty bad.
posted by xingcat at 7:58 AM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Buy a pair of drugstore control-top pantyhose. Cut off the top part, so you just have a tube of nylon. Pull them on, and then roll the waistband down.
posted by kimberussell at 8:05 AM on August 2, 2014 [3 favorites]

posted by janey47 at 8:19 AM on August 2, 2014

Seconding "cilice" - there is a whole category of items made specifically for the spiritual purpose you're describing.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:10 AM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Brand new Doc Martens.
posted by ltisz at 9:45 AM on August 2, 2014

I am allergic to wool. It took me a long time to realize this. I just thought wool was itchy for textural reasons. So if you have an allergy to a particular material, you might be able to wear something perfectly normal that will keep you low-grade miserable. A wool shirt would do it for me, especially certain kinds of wool. (I do okay with some and just terribly with others.)
posted by Michele in California at 10:04 AM on August 2, 2014

Metroid Baby: sitting up straight is a fine answer to this, but it's something you have to think about, something distracting. I want passive discomfort, in the background.
posted by Opengreen at 10:36 AM on August 2, 2014

Bracelet or belt of stinging nettles?
posted by metasarah at 11:14 AM on August 2, 2014

posted by lakeroon at 11:39 AM on August 2, 2014 [1 favorite]

Would some sort of itching powder/cream work? Although, the sensation would be harder to stop.
posted by troytroy at 12:09 PM on August 2, 2014

I suggest you go down to a fabric store and wander up and down the aisles checking out the texture of fabrics. Sometimes you find coarse and nasty fabric in the clearance section. Fabricville has a three dollar a meter section of factory ends where I have on occasion found cloth that had strange things like broom straw woven into it.

If you don't find anything in that section or if your fabric stores doesn't have a section like that, check out the upholstery fabrics. Fabric designed to make curtains or cover furniture is often quite coarse and the inside is not intended to come in contact with people's skin so it can be quite scratchy.

If you find some fabric you like buy a metre and a half and make a small tabard out of it to wear underneath you clothes. You don't have to make a fitted garment, just a rectangle that will fit your torso with a hole cut in it for your head.

I once had a wool army shirt that got washed the wrong way. It became unbelievably coarse and scratchy. I'm not allergic to wool and find lambswool sweaters cozy to wear against the skin, but that army shirt was so coarse that it could leave pink abrasion marks.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:47 PM on August 2, 2014 [2 favorites]

Wear your belt too tight.
posted by serena15221 at 9:45 PM on August 3, 2014

Buy a small quantity of hay (at a pet store) and scrunch some of it inside a tight-fitting, long-sleeved, woven top. Shake out the excess and it'll be itchy/prickly as hell (which is maybe what you're going for?). I say woven, because if the material is too fine or smooth, the short pieces of hay won't stay lodged.

I know this because... We've had to throw out loads of our children's gloves as they've been feeding horses in the winter and their gloves get hay inside which is super prickly and you can't get it out.

Have a blast!
posted by guy72277 at 2:49 AM on August 5, 2014

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