Hollywood

Yes, bony actresses are sometimes targeted for ridicule in the media, but don’t be fooled — the pressure to look thin is fiercer than ever.

I’M searching for body fat in Hollywood. It’s the 2007 MTV Movie Awards, and judging by the standards of the youth-obsessed network’s magenta carpet, blubber, let alone curves, or even softness is out of fashion. Girls — and I mean girls, given their lack of womanly heft, glide by.

Jessica Biel, in a loose black mini-dress. Jessica Alba, with sylph-like arms rising above her red puffy mini-dress. Cameron Diaz, at 34, the veritable grandma of the bunch in a black micro-dress, only inches longer than a bathing suit.

Not one woman won an award that night, but the few female presenters hovered like ethereal specters over such giant, solid, male movie stars as Jack Nicholson, Adam Sandler and Will Ferrell. Host Sarah Silverman, in a parade of girlish dresses, presided like the tiny, squeaky voiced, mean girl from every high school nightmare.

It’s no newsflash that women are skinny in Hollywood — by far skinnier than the 66% of Americans who qualify as overweight or obese. But are they getting skinnier? Or do we just read a lot more about them as an endless stream of celebrity rags and fashion mags chronicle their corporal exploits, alternately castigating and holding them up for public ridicule when their bones stick out (Attention: Kate Bosworth! Mischa Barton! Nicole Richie!) and celebrating the personal resourcefulness they exploited to lose excess poundage.

Some believe that yes, women in Hollywood are shrinking, even more than in previous decades. Amid the attention given recently to the finding, published in the July 26 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine, that obesity is “contagious” — that people tend to get fatter when the people they consider friends get fatter — these days Hollywood is giving ample evidence that the reverse is true as well.

It makes sense: Social norms affect a person’s weight. When a woman’s most successful peers have protruding bones, she’s going to feel pressure to head in that direction as well..

One person who’s noticed that Hollywood women are skinnier than ever is casting director Joseph Middleton, who has cast an array of youth-oriented films such as “American Pie”, “Go” and the upcoming “Jumper.” “The girls that are considered the ing