The bare minimum

Activist sparks moral debate, sells explicit photos to combat fires


Katie Kerrigan

After the deletion of her Instagram account, Kaylen Ward continues to monitor donations via her Twitter.

As millions of animals and people flee for their lives from fires along the Australian countryside, crisis relief efforts strain for enough money to provide the emergency services needed. The fundraising campaigns that resulted, however, have erupted into an issue of their own.

In a post on social media, Instagram model Kaylen Ward offered to her followers a peculiar incentive: for every ten dollars donated to relief efforts, she promised a nude photo.

Ward’s efforts were extremely successful. In total, she raised over 1 million dollars for charities such as the Australian Red Cross and the World Wildlife Fund. However, her method of fundraising spurred a large debate and resulted in quite a moral issue.

Are questionable actions with morally correct causes justifiable? Moral philosophers have debated this issue time and time again, but it now clearly presents itself in a modern context via Ward’s manners of fundraising.

While many would agree with the morality of raising money to combat wildfires that have killed more than 1 billion animals, the question of selling nude photos raises debate. In an Instagram poll of 176 Ocean Lakes students, 75 percent felt that Ward’s actions were morally correct and 25 percent felt that they were wrong.

On one hand, Ward is a consenting adult and her content is purchased only by other consenting adults. She understood the consequences of her actions prior to her post and followed the law. According to, Ward was born in 1999 and is therefore of legal age to participate in such activities. 

“As long as it is consensual and legal, she should be allowed to use her body however she wishes,” said junior Taylor Roomsburg. “Since the way she’s using it is helping the entire continent, why should she be punished for it?”

On the other hand, sexually explicit content can often be considered a cause of unhealthy ideas and the objectification of women. Ward’s actions, therefore, still might allow harmful ideals to continue despite a good cause in mind.

“I believe that treating anybody’s body like that helps perpetuate the culture that views people’s bodies as objects and sexual images as bargaining chips,” said senior Amy Schleicher. “It kind of disgusts me that someone has to go to that extent in order to raise money for a country that’s in such a dire situation.”

Additionally, the precedent set by fundraising campaigns such as Ward’s creates a melancholic portrayal of modern society. Many find disillusionment in the idea that philanthropy now requires a viral, surprising, or off-color element to be effective. The idea that individuals no longer give to any cause without an extreme incentive speaks volumes that modern compassion is deeply lacking.

“If selling nude pictures is the best way to raise money for devastating wildfires in Australia, I think that says a lot about where society is right now,” said senior Josh Minter.