The Ladder by the Wall


P-M was born in China and finsihed his middle school and high school in LA, California. He is currently studying at USC. P-M shared this piece of folklore with me after I asked him whether he know of any interesting folklore when we were chatting after dinner.

The Main Piece:

P-M: There’s another one about not growing tall.

Me: what?

P-M: The ladder. Like, if you see a ladder that leans on a wall or something, you should try your best to stay away from it. Otherwise, if you walk by it, you, again, won’t grow tall. Similar to opening an umbrella indoor (see Free Guan’s post on USC Folklore Archive).


I found a lot of folk beliefs about not growing tall in China. I think the reason why such folklores exist is because Chinese people used to be not as tall as we are today, due to lack of food and exercise. By the time the People’s Republic of China was first established in 1949, the whole country was suffering from lack of wheat and rice, and meat was in great shortage. Food, meat, even oil and salt, were provided to each person at a fixed amount every month and there’s no way one can buy more of them, because there isn’t any. This might be a reason why some Chinese people couldn’t get as tall as they could be, and that leaves a trauma in us, being afraid to be short. That might be how such folklores emerged.