Not all heroes wear clothes. And that is certainly the case for one self-titled Naked Philanthropist.
20-year-old sex worker Kaylen Ward broke Instagram and Twitter this week after she pledged to send nude photos of herself to anyone who could prove they had donated to charities benefitting the Australian bushfires. On Monday afternoon, the model reported that she raised an estimated $700,000 (£532,003) for the cause.
Ward is now a bonafide sensation, and it only took a matter of days for the internet to catch on. She kicked off the firestorm of support on January 3 when she tweeted that she would DM one nude for every $10 (£7.60) an individual had donated to Australia, which has been beset by dangerous air quality and ecological collapse as a result of an estimated 69 remaining uncontained fires blazing on the continent.
"I was expecting to raise maybe $1,000, but the tweet blew up," Ward told Buzzfeed News. 76,000 retweets later, Ward supposedly had to hire a 4-person team to manager her flooding inbox to help her sort through donations. Shortly after, she aptly titled herself The Naked Philanthropist (trademark pending), replete with social media handles to reflect her new status.
But when it comes to selling photos online, Ward is something of an expert — she already boasts a profit off of selling nude photos on the app OnlyFans. This effort, though, was purely an initiative to call attention to a cause that she worried was going underreported by the media. The plan worked — maybe too well — and with the help of her team, she is sifting through her inbox to ensure that everyone who has legitimately qualified for a nude selfie ultimately receives one in the name of saving Australia from horrifying brush fires.
The Australia wildfires are already threatening lasting damage to the country's wildlife and infrastructure, and have claimed a rising 25 lives since they began burning. According to experts, they will likely continue to blaze for months, despite an estimated 2,300 firefighters, many of whom are volunteers, working around the clock to battle the flames.
But perhaps unsurprisingly, Ward’s act of benevolence hasn’t come without its fair share of unintended consequences. An Instagram account associated with Ward that had around 50,000 followers was shut down twice by the image-sharing platform, both times for violating its user guidelines, according to a screenshot she posted to Twitter. Not to mention, Instagram does have a history of penalising sex workers on the app.
In the absence of her official account, copycats and fakes have also sprung up to try and capitalise on Ward’s newfound notoriety. But the model and philanthropist is seemingly undeterred by any negativity surrounding her viral campaign.
“My IG got deactivated, my family disowned me, and the guy I like won’t talk to me all because of that tweet,” she wrote on Twitter. “But fuck it, save the koalas.”