The Ling long Woman

In the 1930s, the New Woman swept the globe. Everywhere from New York to Paris to Tokyo, people noted a new type of woman-about-town: urban, sophisticated, educated, and fashionable. In many ways, Shanghai's New Woman was little different from her global counterparts; she bobbed her hair and challenged gender boundaries just like they did. Yet she was also born in a particular modern Chinese context full of contradictions. Reformers idealized the New Woman as free and liberated, an example of China's break from her oppressive and conservative past. Critics of the New Woman, however, suggested that her excessive consumption and unrootedness represented the dangers of unbridled modernity and foreign influences.

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The Ling long woman epitomized the Shanghai New Woman. She lived in both the fantasy world of popular culture and on the streets of everyday Shanghai. Photographs in the magazine ranged from glamorous movie stars to the actual authors of articles, and from society ladies to students. Just as the Ling long woman had multiple identities, the magazine called her a variety of both Chinese and English names: xin nuxing xin nuxing and xin nuzi xin nuzi (new woman); xiandai nuzi xiandai nuzi (contemporary woman); modeng nuxing modeng nuxing (modern woman, modern girl, girl of this age, and girl of today).

Ling long writers explored what it meant to be an urban, educated woman in the 1930s, although they did not always agree. Marriage was one of the subjects inspiring different viewpoints. Some authors instructed readers about ways to run an ordered, hygienic, modern household, while other writers advocated never getting married. Readers joined in these discussions with letters to the editor on questions ranging from dating to child care.

When they opened the magazine, readers walked into the world of the Ling long woman. This world offered readers a fantasy, allowing them to transcend their everyday lives, but it was also a reflection of their lives. The Ling long woman was an elegant movie star; but she was also a good friend—a real urban woman.

Related articles from Ling long (English translation)
"Being a Contemporary Girl" (1934)
"The Modern Girl's Outward Appearance and Essence" (1933)

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