Queen of the DaySara Blakely Gives Thanks for Spanx By Donating a (Half) FortuneParry Ernsberger

Spanx are to dressing as GChat is to working: I’m not quite sure how I lived my life before them and I just don’t think I could live my life without them now. Even Beyonce wears them! (And if Beyonce needs a little tuck and suck every now and again, then yes, I will have fries with that today.) The success of Spanx, the slimming intimates and body-shaping undergarments that have average women wearing bandage dresses with pride, has propelled its creator, Sara Blakely, into billionaire status. Not only that, but Blakely is the youngest woman in the world to have achieved that status at 42.

What do you even do with that kind of money? Buy your own private island and stock it with a lifetime supply of Diet Coke and red wine? Purchase a trip to the moon for you and your five best friends, complete with spa services? Go shopping until your closet’s so full it starts puking up cashmere? Maybe. But, if you’re Sara Blakely, you join the Giving Pledge: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett’s attempt to encourage the world’s richest people to donate at least half their wealth to charity.

Blakely got a call from Gates’ office after she appeared on the cover of Forbesasking her to join him, his wife Melinda and a few other couples for dinner.  When he proposed Blakely join the Giving Pledge, she took several months to make her decision — Ultimately writing a heart-felt letter (which will soon appear on the Gates Foundation’s website) explaining what led her to actually take the Pledge plunge:

“It was very emotional, writing it,” she said. “When I read it out loud, I cried. I have so much gratitude for being a woman in America. I wouldn’t have had these opportunities if I wasn’t born in the right place at the right time.”

Sara’s contribution makes her the first female billionaire to join the Pledge — The first of many to come, I’m sure. Her past philanthropic efforts have focused on helping women and girls, including a recent $100,000 donation to The Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based organization that centers around creating jobs for homeless women by paying them to produce sleeping-bag coats for others sleeping on the streets.

Featured image courtesy of Forbes.com

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