Iris never believed she was pretty. She was tall but not thin like so many other girls in her grade. Probably a bit too big up top and she always thought her bum looked too big. She felt like she was an Amazon in an hourglass. Her hair was long and curly. Too curly, and red. Not a real red, more a deep carrot orange.

Why on earth they called it red was beyond her. She was definitely a throw-back to those wild Scottish genes on her Mum's side of the family. Red hair, green eyes AND freckles. Not many freckles mind you, but they were still there in all their glory. Ick, Iris shuddered thinking of herself.

No-one had asked her to the end of year school farewell dance, and Iris had given up the idea of going a long time ago, until her best friends Katie and Colleen refused to go unless she came along with them... "All or none!" they commanded. "We won't see our best friend miss out on this very special night" they added.

There were only two weeks left before the Christmas Holidays commenced. The dance was organised for the last night of school for the year ten students. For many of them it was the last night they'd probably get to see their other school friends. Some were not going back to school after the break for further education but going out to work. Others would just head off in different directions for the break and enjoy their time away. So it was time to celebrate the past, as well as the future.

Iris was glad for the summer break. She loved catching up with Katie and Colleen but couldn't give two hoots about not seeing the others.

In year ten, and being sweet sixteen, everyone was "expected" to have had at least one boyfriend. Katie and Colleen always had boys asking them out on dates and they'd often go, but none of the boys ever got very far and never made it to steady boyfriend stakes. Although none of them made it, it wasn't through lack of trying. The three girls would always go out together and Katie and Colleen would have their prospective boyfriends tag along.

Sometimes both the girls had partners, sometimes only one of them. But, they would all go together none-the-less. "All or none!" Most days Iris just felt like shag on a rock… always the odd one out.

Both of her friends had been asked to go to the dance with a couple of the so-called "nerdier" boys and Iris understood why. These guys didn't expect anything after the dance they were just happy to have nice girls as partners and the girls were happy to have them.

Jake and William were twins and would often be seen playing chess in the Library at lunch. Their cousin Pete was coming to the school next year and would be joining classes for the last week for end of year activities. The twin's Mum headed up the organizing committee for the end of year dance and she was able to organize for Pete to attend the dance, hang out with his cousins and meet some of the other students.

Jake and Katie had organised it between them to hook Iris and Pete on a blind date… so blind in fact they had no idea what was being planned.

Katie was a bit taller than average and willowy. She had porcelain skin and eyes that were deep and brown; almost black. Katie played the piano and was very artistic. She had a real dramatic air about her. Not showy or shallow, just cultured and she attracted everyone she met with her welcoming smile and wave. She was beautiful and just plain nice!

Colleen was a bit shorter than average and had extraordinarily long eyelashes that would blink quite slowly revealing magical big blue eyes that looked like pools of sapphires. She had deep jet-black almost blue hair, and was a real beach babe. Colleen would often lather her body in coconut or Baby oil and lie in the sun to "brown-up" before summer came. Although not terribly sun-smart, Colleen was the brightest girl in the school but not a smug bone in her greek-goddess body.

"Not only pretty" her Mum would say to us, "but got the brains to go with it. Just lucked out on both fronts I guess girls" and she would break out into laughter. Colleen and her Mum were always laughing at something and it usually involved Iris somehow.

Iris was one of the brighter students in her classes, but happy to just quietly blend into the background. At five foot eleven, this was definitely a no easy task. Iris was quiet during class time. Trying to slip between the cracks and not have anyone focus too much on her. She would often answer questions when asked but found it a bit more difficult to put her hand up to offer an answer, just in case it would draw attention to her.

Outside of class and with Katie and Colleen she was a different person. Iris was hilariously funny and the trio would often spend their lunches and recesses wandering around the playgrounds in stiches of laughter.

Now that the decision was made that they would all go to the end of year dance together and the boys could tag along; they were madly shopping for new outfits to wear. The boys had arranged to wear black matching tuxedos and were quite excited about the idea. Well, all but one was excited.

The last week of school came quickly and the twin's cousin Pete was the talk of the school. Many of the self-professed popular girls hung around him like flies to a honey pot all vying for his six foot buff frame to escort them to the dance. They were quite prepared – all of them – to dump their previous partners for the opportunity to be on the arm of the talk of the school. Pete thought how beautiful yet shallow they all were.

Because of all the mixed activities during the final week, Iris has only heard about a new guy coming to the school. She'd only seen him on a couple of occasions from afar and as she didn't like to bring attention to herself anyway, the less she knew of the new kid the better she liked it; he was just another person to contend with next year.

Katie and Colleen managed to keep Iris out of sight through lunches and recesses just in case Jake or William forgot themselves and blabbed, alerting Iris to what had been planned.

The dance was organised to commence at seven, so the girls had organised to meet up at Katie's house at 6:30pm and they were to have a sleepover afterwards. Katie's family lived diagonally across the road from the high school so it made sense for them to all meet up there.

The big night had finally arrived. School was now finished and preparations were well on their way for the big night. Preening, colouring, brushing, highlighting and bleaching were all part of the well-oiled machine that was preparation.

Iris's Mum had bought her a very pale powder green, full length dress that was gathered ever so slightly at the waist. The neckline was rounded to take the focus from her chest and onto her neck where she wore her Grandmothers gold and emerald necklace which sat neatly below the hollow of her neck. The little matching earrings hung like delicate chandeliers from her ears.

The back of Iris's dress was gathered delicately with fine pin-pleats which formed a train that draped elegantly to the floor and topped with a row of green gemstones that bowed upwards toward the sleeves.

The beauty of the body of the dress was enhanced by the long flowing chiffon that rested over Iris's arms as if in a dream. A thin loop of gems attaching the sleeves to her middle finger on either hand, giving the illusion of wings when Iris moved her arms up and down.

A little powder on her checks gave her a magic glow and the mascara enhanced her green eyes that were now luminescent. Clear lip-gloss and done!

Iris had her Mum braid both sides of her hair and hitched it together with a sprig of baby's breath flowers. She used the remainder of the beautiful tiny flowers and randomly placed them along the line of each braid. Her hair, an abundance of beautiful vibrant red curls cascading down her back. Iris looked like an Elvish Princess from a land long forgotten.

It was six-thirty and Iris was bubbling with excitement as she approached Katie's front door. She knew her friends had something up their sleeves but couldn't quite put her finger on it. Whatever it was, it would not compare to how she was feeling now. Nothing was going to spoil her night.

Iris pressed the doorbell.

"I'll get it if you like Katie" called Pete as he ran his finger backwards and forwards through the top of the collar of his shirt, and feeling uncomfortable. He'd just been told he'd been set-up for the night with a blind date, so he figured he may as well get the introductions over and done with.

What were they thinking? Why did his cousins always do this type of thing to him? It wasn't as if he couldn't find someone himself, he just wanted someone that wasn't brain-dead, had a bit of a spark to them and a great sense of humour. He frowned and wondered; just a little exasperated.

"Great – thanks Pete" Katie called as the quartet of conspirators raced down the hallway towards the door. "First impressions will be everything" Katie explained. "Keep your fingers crossed everyone!"

Pete opened the door to Iris. The conspirators gasped in unison.

Pete's mouth dropped and remained open and he slowly blinked, unsure what he should actually do or say.

Awkwardly, the words "Hi, I'm Pete" escaped from his lips.

"Hi I'm Iris" She thought for a split second, realising what her friends had now planned. Looking straight at Pete, her green eyes twinkled "If you don't have any other plans, or have had any better offers, would you like to come with me to the school dance with me tonight?"

Pete swallowed, his mouth suddenly parched. "Definitely no plans…" he began… "And definitely no better offers!"

Iris finally realized how beautiful she really was and laughed.

A/N – beauty has to come from within. Many girls think it begins with big breasts, skanky clothes and being popular. External beauty may not last for ever - so why rely on it?

We may never fall into the category of what someone else thinks beautiful is.

Don't ever sell yourself short, thinking that you'll never meet someone that likes you for you. If they're genuine, they'll see the beauty that comes from within. If they don't see it, they're not the one that is there to find the real you in the first place – are they really worth it?

Resorting to using your bodies as a tool to get what you want won't necessarily make you happy either. Is it you they like as a person?... Or, is it just they want to use your body? I guess only you and they will know…

Our bodies are just the vessels in which we store our real beauty in, regardless of the aesthetics of the packaging - so don't abuse it!

Maybe the best idea is to look at where YOU believe your true beauty lies and work at it. We are all great at something that makes us beautiful! Even if it's something others think isn't so great.

Hey, they're entitled to be wrong :) you will find your own beauty somewhere, somehow and maybe when you least expect it. Then you will shine. No-one can ever take it from you when you do find it… Happy looking!