Morning Stretches

The informant, RD, recounts how her mother used to stretch her out every morning to make her taller

RD: ” My mother would tell me to hold onto the headboard and then she’d grab my feet and pull really hard, it was supposed to make me taller or something. My mom made me do all kinds of weird stuff when I was younger and I’d always do them. She told me to eat prunes in order to restore blood levels too.”

Did her mother do it to her?

RD: “Yes. Her mom used to do it to her back in China. They think that in the morning you are at your tallest so if you get stretched out when you’re at your tallest you will get even taller. I think my mom knew even then that I was gonna be short.”

Did she do it everyday?

RD: “No, it was only when we had extra time in the morning. I’d say a couple times a week, it wasn’t like an exactly timed thing”

How long did she do it for?

RD: “I think from when I was in elementary school until I was in about 7th grade? I don’t know, sometime in middle school. I think she realized I was just gonna stay short.”

Do you think it did anything?

RD: “(laughs) no it was just some weird thing my mom made me do.”


I thought this piece was interesting because it showed a clash between the Chinese culture and American culture. Obviously for RD’s mother, who lived in China until she was an adult, it made sense that stretching someone out in the morning would make them taller. She also must have believed it worked if her mother used to do it to her and then she did it to her own daughter. However, RD, who was born in America, thought it was preposterous and would never work. I think this demonstrates Americans supreme belief in Western medicine. It would probably seem silly to most people in the United States that yanking on someone’s body would make them taller because they believe being tall is something you get from genetics. This could also be an example of dying folklore because folklore has to contemporary. Since RD thought it was an outdated practice that didn’t work she probably won’t do it to her children and it will die out in her lineage.