Seeing Lucille Ball show off her acting, dancing, and singing talents makes “The Diet” one of my favorite episodes. She radiates confidence in her sassy performance.
Most of the episode focuses on Lucy’s weight concerns, and her efforts to lose 12 pounds in 4 days. I’m glad the show represents her efforts to exercise and diet, but it didn’t look like she needed to lose weight.
In the photo below Lucy feels insecure after seeing the women who were auditioning to be Ricky’s partner in the ‘Cuban Pete’ number.
To me, the women looked curvier than Lucy, especially since their thighs and long legs are accentuated by the short shorts. Their figure looks closer to what Marilyn Monroe’s was, and she would have been considered plus size by today’s standards.
To me the difference between Lucy and the women was not weight, but their image of youth- revealing parts of their bodies that we don’t usually see in the show, their hair style, attitude, body language. Lucy represented the 1950s ‘prototypical’ housewife, and the women symbolized the alluring youth culture, spunk and sex appeal; they were positioned for the male gaze.
Based on physical appearance, it seemed like Ricky would choose one of the other women. Of course he gave Lucy an opportunity, but she had to pass through the hurdle of ‘losing weight’ to fit into the purchased costume for the number.
Lucy’s transformation in clothing, body language, and self-esteem is significant by the end. Her beauty and successful performance highlight her unseen talents as a housewife.