2019 was Australia’s warmest year on record. This has contributed to dried out vegetation that, when combined with high-speed winds and lightning strikes, has led to massive areas being consumed by out-of-control fire.
Over the past few weeks, it’s been difficult to ignore the apocalyptic scenes on social media, and in the news, of the damage caused by the wildfire.
To make things worse, not all of it has come about due to natural causes. So far, police have charged at least 24 people for intentionally starting bushfires in the state of New South Wales alone.
A number of celebrities, including Nicole Kidman, Kylie Minogue and Pink have made substantial donations towards fire relief efforts.
One Instagram model also wanted to help, but things didn’t go quite as planned.
The Guardian spoke to 20-year old nude model Kaylen Ward, who reckons she managed to raise around $700 000 (just over R10 million) for the victims of Australia’s bushfire crisis in an unconventional way.
At around 10pm on 3 January, Ward tweeted a nude image of herself – with an angel emoji acting as a modesty strip – alongside a list of charities her followers could fund. That evening she raised more than $7,000.
“The next morning I woke up and it had gone absolutely viral and I was flooded with messages. It quickly just blew up and went upwards of $100,000 before I knew it.”
…Although she has not tallied the exact total yet, Ward believes her donation drive could exceed $700,000. “I have a girl that’s doing the analysis on it and she’s calculated that I’m getting about 10 legitimate verified DMs per minute,” she says.
“And that’s only saying everybody donated at least $10, that’s not even calculating the average amount, because I’ve had donations of $5,000 … I feel that the number is way beyond that.”
Noble work, I think we can agree.
But then her Instagram account, ‘The Naked Philanthropist’, was suddenly deleted:
Ward has been upset that her Instagram account, which had more than 60,000 followers and was a significant source of revenue, has been deleted. “Every time I try to make a new account it’s deactivated, and what’s concerning is there are a few fake accounts who are impersonating me that haven’t got deleted. People are stealing my identity through Instagram.”
The deleted account hasn’t stopped her from raising money, and her campaign has inspired others to follow in her footsteps, offering nude pictures in exchange for donations.
Katie Day, a Vancouver-based sex worker, says she saw the Naked Philanthropist’s tweet and “thought it was a really great way to encourage people to donate”. She tweeted on 6 January that she was joining Ward’s efforts. She hoped to raise a couple of hundred dollars, and has already surpassed that goal, raising more than $1,000 in 24 hours, mostly from “people I’ve never heard of before”.
Ward says that she’s amazed by all of the attention she got for her efforts. You can still follow her on Twitter, where her account is still active.
It is nice to see an influencer using their powers for good.
If you’d like to donate to Australian bushfire relief, follow this link.
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