A lot of “Buffy” fans have their complaints about Dawn, but my biggest beef with her character is more directed at Joss Whedon. Whedon prides himself on being this killer male feminist, and creating media that celebrates powerful women. Which he has. However, as someone else pointed out, these women are always strong in a way that Whedon obviously finds sexy.
Dawn is supposed to be this huge nerd, but Michelle Trachtenberg always looks stunning. She’s tall and thin with long, loose curls, and styled in the same Y2K fashionable outfits Buffy wears. I’m not saying being conventionally good-looking and having dorky interests is mutually exclusive for women, but teenage nerds typically look like, well, nerds.
The viewer has to be constantly reminded that Dawn is a socially awkward dork. Whedon really slacked on the characterization by writing us a willowy mallrat who occasionally references Harry Potter, but claiming she is actually a socially inept geek.