an ode

Laura Dern Is So Good at Sitting

Laura Dern in Twin Peaks: The Return.
Laura Dern, sitting icon, in Twin Peaks: The Return. Photo: Suzanne Tenner/©Showtime Networks Inc./Courtesy Everett Collection

Laura Dern doesn’t need me to defend, or even recognize, her talent as an actress. Her long list of accolades, from Golden Globe wins to Oscar noms, speak for themselves. But it is my duty, and mine alone, to bring attention to another one of her skills that has been glaringly — and bizarrely — ignored by the mainstream media and award shows alike: sitting.

Dern on the set of Wild at Heart (1990). Photo: Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

Maybe you’ve never thought deeply about it before, but once you notice, it’s incontrovertible: Laura Dern, formidable actress and tall queen, looks so good when she sits. If you aren’t yet fully convinced, look at pretty much any photo of her sitting. Have you ever seen such elegance atop a chair? Or a couch? Or even the floor?

That elegant sideways tilt! Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images

One could make the argument that Dern is also good at standing, a position in which her poise is just as admirable. But it’s much easier to keep your shoulders back when you’re on your feet; when sitting, you have to consciously stop yourself from hunching forward to rest your arms on whatever’s nearby. But Dern doesn’t falter. Instead, she typically leans ever so slightly to the side, preserving her straight posture, if she doesn’t remain fully upright. The juxtaposition of her angular body against cushiony surfaces only adds to the pleasing visual effect. Look at her angles.

Imagine sitting up that straight without any back support. Photo: Anthony Barboza/Getty Images

After a bit of cursory research, I believe I have found the source of Dern’s exceptional posture. In November 1999, the actress told Redbook Magazine that at the age of nine, she was diagnosed with an extreme case of scoliosis, and that all the doctors she saw told her that for her back to heal, she would have to commit teenage social suicide (wear a back brace). Unwilling to go to such lengths, she improved her posture through “alternative methods,” according to a New York story from 2011.

Dern showing off her angles in Marriage Story. Photo: Netflix

A big point for alternative medicine, eh? And I — a slouchy human who does not look good sitting — haven’t even been able to bring myself to buy one of those techy posture straighteners or start doing dedicated exercises. In 2020, may I be inspired by my sitting icon.

Laura Dern Is So Good at Sitting