Trigger warning: This article discusses suicide and may be triggering for some readers. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that the following article contains images of people who have died.
When most people picture Brooke Blurton, they see the sparkling grin that won hearts Aussie hearts across from the moment she stepped onto the Bachelor red carpet in 2018.
But the 27-year-old Noongar-Yamatji woman tells Now To Love exclusively that she, like many First Nations Australians who grew up in poverty, once struggled with her smile.
"I didn't always have the greatest hygiene growing up, so it's been a conscious effort for me as an adult, especially being on TV and being in the media," she says over the phone.
Born to an Aboriginal- Malaysian mother and an English father, Brooke grew up in a country town in Carnarvon, Western Australia until her mother died by suicide when she was 11.
The tragedy had a profound impact on Brooke and her upbringing, as she bounced from one home to another through her teen years.
Sadly, her story isn't all that uncommon and many children who experience instability, trauma or poverty growing up don't have the same access or education when it comes to dental hygiene.
"A lot of people don't have access to normal day-to-day dental hygiene products, just toothbrushes or just toothpaste," Brooke tells us.
"And I fell into that category once upon a time, growing up in poverty. I feel very lucky now having it so easily accessible, but I don't take that for granted.
"People don't realise that it [lack of access to dental hygiene] can deter someone's confidence. If they're not feeling confident about their hygiene, they're not really feeling confident about their smile."
The Bachelorette star wants everyone – especially disadvantaged kids who may be growing up the way she did – to have the tools and education they need to smile confidently.
That's why she's teamed up with Oral-B as the brand launches its new 3D White Lasting White Toothpaste that promises stain removal and resistance, so everyone can embrace their smiles.
"It's about self-confidence, self-love, taking care of yourself, and there's an educational part around teaching people about dental hygiene, which I wish I had when I was younger," Brooke says.
But that's not the only reason she signed up to be an ambassador; Brooke's also promoting LGBTQIA+ acceptance through the brand's #SmileWithLove initiative.
A proud bisexual woman and the nation's first openly queer Bachelorette, Brooke and Oral-B are encouraging Australians to embrace who they are and who they love this Mardi Gras.
"Mardi Gras and all the events are a celebration of love and acceptance, and it really encourages us [queer people] and allies to support the LGBTQ+ community," Brooke says.
She'll most likely be celebrating with friends this year but is quick to acknowledge that the event isn't just about parties and glitter; it's also a chance to recognise to the people who paved the way for the queer community in Australia.
WATCH: Welcome to Country on The Bachelorette. Story continues after video.
"Mardi Gras wasn't always a very positive celebration. It started as a protest, and it's only because of those before us that we are now able to celebrate so freely," she tells us.
And Brooke didn't always have the confidence to celebrate herself freely either.
Though she's become an unofficial queer icon here in Australia – a title she says feels "surreal" – the 27-year-old admits she also struggled with self-acceptance in the past, an experience so many LGBTQ+ Aussies can identify with.
Years after she first shared her sexuality with Nick Cummins – and the world – on The Bachelor, Brooke is more confident in her identity than ever and credits her ability to find the positives in any situation.
"I've grown so much since that scene on The Bachelor. For me that was just a huge pivotal moment in sort of owning who I am," she says.
"Throughout those ups and downs with reality TV, my childhood, growing up, coming to terms with sexuality, I've always been a very positive person."
As for her advice to other LGBTQ+ Australians who may be questioning themselves, their identities or their confidence this Mardi Gras, Brooke urges them to find ways to love themselves even when they feel isolated.
"I always think back to my younger self and like, 'what would my younger self need in a time like this?'" she muses.
"A lot of people feel alone at different points in their life. And I just want share that you're not alone in any way. There's always someone there for you."
And maybe try wearing something a little bolder if you need that kick of confidence when the Mardi Gras events roll around.
Brooke laughs as she tells us her philosophy of "look hot, feel hot" and adds: "You'll have a lot more confidence and you'll be smiling all day, which will immediately draw people to you."
If you or someone you know has been affected by any of the issues raised in this article, help is always available. Call Lifeline on 13 11 14.