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Letter to the Naked Philanthropist

Dear Kaylen Ward,

We’ve heard about the bushfires in Australia, we’ve posted about it on our social media, and we’ve watched some celebrities pledge money to the effort. And now, we’ve heard about you. 

While the majority may not have $500, 000 to donate like P!nk, you have not let that stop you from helping a natural disaster. As in influencer, you’re using your platform to do what you can from California — by promising to send a nude photo to everyone who donates at least $10 to the cause. 

You took to Twitter on Jan 3, and to this day, have raised over $500, 000, donating to organizations collecting money for the fight, rescue, and rehabilitation of the bushfires and its devastating effects. 

Screenshot of @lilearthangelk’s tweet on Jan. 3, 2020.

Of course, as the tide of donations rolls out to the Oceanic sea, criticism rolls right back in. It did not take long for people hiding behind avatars and social media handles to attack your character, shame you for your occupation, and try to weasel you out of a free nude photograph.  

I want to reiterate what you already know to be true, but may have lost sight of in the past few days because of the negativity that has been hurled at your recently.

You are a sex worker. You sell sexual images and videos of your body online. You have profited from your marketing and your product. And that is more than okay. We needn’t ask why you began. We needn’t ask when you plan to stop —  because you very well may not have plans to. Sex work is real work. 

We live in a world that loves and hates women for the sexualization of their bodies. 

The culture we have grown up in enjoys women dancing back-up in short, tight outfits, but shames women in the same outfits when they’re the stars of the video. It’s a culture that respects the hustle — but only when it falls within the parameters of its arbitrary morality. It’s a culture refusing to acknowledge its misogynistic roots and avoiding the work it takes to deconstruct it.

Screenshot of @lilearthangelk’s tweet on Jan. 6, 2020.

Despite this, we have young, influential women like you. You, who at 20, have turned your head to the disagreeable connotation of your line of work. You, who in a time of crisis, evaluated your resources, and offered what you can. You, who in the age of apathy, decided to see others in need. 

So I applaud you, your drive, your innovation. You are not what they are reducing you to.

Your motivation is not recognition or fame, but you should be praised for what you have accomplished. Rallying working-class people to raise more money than the amount a pop star donated from her own wallet is significant. It should not matter that you used your body in the process. 

Maybe this is not so much a letter to you, as it is to your critics. 

So to the critics, 

Success can take many different, beautiful, valid forms. There is no single way to provide philanthropy; the same way there is no single way to make people happy. Kaylen achieving what she did amidst the backlash is a testament to a resilient business, mind, and spirit.

 

Sincerely,

Sherlyn 

Screenshot of @esioneoc’s tweet on Jan. 5, 2020.
Journalism & Poli Sci '20. I love books, goats, breakfast foods, and spend too much time refreshing my blog: https://sherlynassam.wixsite.com/sail