What She Did

The new Ling long woman needed new things to do. Ling long not only instructed its readers how to be better housewives or keener students, it also told them how to manage their spare time—what to see, do, wear, and buy. Advertisements marketed a new modern lifestyle of leisure and consumption, while the magazine documented it in photographs and articles.



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Modern leisure activities sprang out of new technologies. The Ling long woman tuned into one of Shanghai's more than thirty radio stations. After reading about American and Chinese movie stars in the pages of Ling long magazine, she saw them brought to life on the big screen in one of Shanghai's many majestic theatres, such as the Cathay, the Nanjing, or the Paramount. Camera companies, such as the German company Agfa, advertised both movie and photographic cameras that enabled the Ling long woman to document her own story in city parks, on university campuses, and on trips outside the city.

The Ling long woman also went shopping, and companies wanted her business. Ling long advertised Odol toothpaste from Germany, Lux soap from Great Britain, Odo-ro-no deodorant from the United States, and Sansan perfume from China. These advertisements encouraged readers to buy into a hygienic, fragrant, modern lifestyle. At the same time, the magazine included cartoons that mocked the new woman as an over-consumer.

This ambivalence toward modern life in the city—it was both idealized and criticized—found its voice throughout the pages of Ling long. For instance, Ling long presented both the healthy and seamy sides of urban leisure. The Canidrome, a greyhound track, advertised regularly in Ling long, suggesting that readers probably enjoyed gambling. However, photographs of sporting events and advertisements for equipment like basketballs suggest that readers also enjoyed athletic activities that cultivated a healthy body for a healthy nation. The new Ling long woman was nothing if not a contradiction.

Related articles from Ling long (English translation)
"Nationally Produced Female Stars and Foreign Female Stars" (1933)

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