In a revealing study of the medical ads in the newspaper Shenbao, Huang Kewu has concluded that social life in Shanghai was besmeared by the problems of contagious and sexual diseases, and of opium-smoking and its prohibition; the ads also showed some significant changes in women's lives, of which freedom from foot binding was a major phenomenon. My own preliminary findings, drawn from the ads in Dongfang zazhi and Liangyou huabao, indicate that there were other issues as well. For instance, the advertisements for Dr. Williams' Pink Pills for Pale People invariably contain illustrations of people to show the positive functions of the drug. In the other samples, I have found the recurrent motif of a modern conjugal family of husband and wife, sometimes with one or two children or an occasional grandfather or grandmother. Together these ads, it seems to me, tell an imagined story of a modern couple for whom marital happiness based on good health becomes a central element. If read together with Huang's findings, the ads project an urban lifestyle in which the errant husband is more likely to contract sexual diseases outside but the wife remains healthily at home. (Of course, he will stay healthy so long as he stays at home with his wife.) In contrast to the implied "evil" space outside, home is portrayed as a safe and clean place in which, in one ad, a woman is seen brushing her teeth with Colgate's Ribbon Dental Cream (when she is not using Colgate's Fab, which "Safely Washes Fine Fabrics"), and in another, holding her baby on top of a can of Momilk by American Brewer and Company, beside a long passage describing the dangers of wet nurses who, in a predictable transference, are the transmitters of sexual and other contagious diseases.
Even in the ubiquitous cigarette ads, we find a picture of domestic comfort as an elaborately dressed wife (in the same style as the cover portrait cited earlier) offers a tin of Golden Dragon Cigarettes to her traditionally clothed husband sitting on a modern sofa. The four lines of Chinese words placed into a square form an awkward and blatantly exploitative message: "Beauty is lovely; cigarettes are also lovely. The cigarette that is a national product, it is even more lovely." Perhaps the most revealing is a set of three ads for Quaker Oats, which gives us three variations of the same story: in the first one, a wife wearing an apron is holding a bowl of Quaker Oats to give to her seated husband, who is reading a newspaper (with the heading "Ideal Breakfast"); in the second, a mother is holding her beloved baby and feeding him a spoonful of Quaker Oats; in the third, there is no direct representation of the cereal but the picture of two youngsters, a boy and a girl, carrying their satchels and running to school. The health message reads: "Give the energy, nourish the soul: youngsters in school consume a lot of energy, and the development of their bodies and hearts consumes even more. For nourishment, this
The emphasis on children is further evidenced by the many photos of naked babies in Liangyou huabao's issues. The magazine proceeded in late 1926 to sponsor, together with the Momilk company, a competition for the healthiest babies, with an award totaling four hundred yuan for the top thirty. Hundreds of photos of eager entrants appeared in subsequent issues. The whole enterprise is but a "healthy" echo of an American beauty contest, which the journal also featured in its twentieth issue. The Chinese headings for the beauty contest used three terms: meiren (beautiful person), meinü (beautiful woman), and renti mei (beauty of the human body). The last also became the recurrent theme of a series of photographs displaying the female body with an increasing degree of nudity. The issues of 1926 featured Western sculptures and paintings of nudes and photos of Japanese women in bathing suits. These were accompanied by drawings by contemporary Chinese artists (for instance, issue No. 15  featured the works of Wan Laiming). In issue No. 30 (1928), a number of nude poses appeared together with an ad for a book of Wan Laiming's paintings. This was the first time that photos of a Chinese nude model appeared: four photos showing the contours of a woman's back. In issue No. 40 (1929) a "photographic study" by Chang Chien Wen shows a full-page nude facing a mirror—with the explanatory remarks lauding the naturalness of her body: "a healthy body is the first principle of beauty." In issue No. 50 (1930), another photo of a frontal nude also takes up a whole page, with the English title "Under the shade of a willow tree (a photo by P. C. Chen)"; the Chinese title again lauded "a healthy and beautiful body."
It would take a long treatise to put the public display, artistic or otherwise, of the female body in a modern Chinese cultural context. (It would be relatively easy to see it as an invasion of Western culture and aesthetics that inscribes a long history of the Western human body on the Chinese mind.) As Mark Elvin has shown in a long article, the discourse on the body in traditional Chinese culture is full of complexities. The Chinese word for body, shen, is translated by Elvin as "body-person" as it is often connected with extraphysical attributes of person, self, life, or lifetime. Both Confucianism and Taoism were, of course, much obsessed with the physical side of the human body. But according to Elvin the reason for this was above all to preserve longevity: "Late-traditional Chinese were hypochondriacs, obsessed with diets, medicine, and health generally"—all presumably for such a purpose. One should add that these hypochondriacs were mostly men. Elvin notes that "the body-person is also the heart-mind's most important single resource. It is (obviously) the carrier of physical beauty, both female and male. It is the repository
The relevance of this observation for our purposes is that this last instance may well have been preserved in the cultural memory of readers of Liangyou huabao. As I argued earlier, the journal's effort to maintain a healthy respectability and friendliness may have stemmed from an awareness of the popularity of countless journals, as well as the gossip sheets put out by the "mosquito press," devoted to the pleasure quarters. Catherine Yeh has demonstrated that in the late Qing period, such journals about courtesans also held beauty competitions; each "famous flower" had her own literati following. The vogue faded from the publishing scene after (so Yeh surmised) such journals were replaced by movie magazines. Courtesan literature, in fact, did not fade from modern Chinese literature: only its "public image" was displaced by photographs and paintings of modern, and more respectable, women. Thus to display the female body either as a work of art (Western) or as an embodiment of physical health marked the beginnings of a new discourse that was made problematic precisely because it was derived from the previous courtesan journals, in which female bodies indeed carried a market value. Insofar as it portrayed young ladies, a new pictorial like Liangyou huabao had to reinvest the female body with an entirely new meaning and ethical value. The new women portrayed or photographed are not poor, or at least not from poor families. And when they are placed in a interior setting of a modern family, they are made to embody a totally different style of life. Their bodies, therefore, are placed in new "persons": to follow Elvin, their new house would be where they could anshen (settle down in life), just as their chushen (upbringing) and shen-fen (personal status) are purposefully given a "dressing up" of bourgeois wealth and respectability. Thus fashion—the styles of dressing up—became a modern element in a culture that did not have such a tradition except in a fleeting form (according to Elvin, "chiefly hairdo and makeup, it seems").
To move from the portrait of a fashionable woman to that of a nude female generated further anxiety for readers living in that still transitional age, because the drawings of naked female bodies in traditional Chinese culture were found largely in pornographic books. The invention of photography and its adoption by the modern newspaper and magazine added a mimetic dimension: the nude figure looks like a real person. This new "shock of recognition" could incur all kinds of "misinterpretations" by the average readers of the time—most of all those derived
By the early 1930s, an entire imaginary of urban modernity was constructed in the pages of Liangyou huabao. There appeared more and more photos showcasing the various attractions of the city itself. Issue No. 87 in 1934 includes a two-page photographic extravaganza billed in English as "Outline of Shanghai"; its Chinese title is even more revealing: "So This Is Shanghai: Sound, Light, and Electricity." Other photos show Shanghai's famed department stores, hotels, ballrooms, cinemas (together with movie stars), and women. An issue in 1934 presents a photographic mosaic with headings in both English and Chinese— "Intoxicated [sic] Shanghai" and "Duhui de ciji" (Excitements of the metropolis)—with photos of a jazz band, a new twenty-two-story skyscraper, scenes of horse and dog racing,