NASA and space makeup

I’ve been meaning to talk about this since the first time I saw it on Twitter.

space makeup
An unused astronaut makeup kit, on display at the Smithsonian.

The idea of a bunch of (male) NASA engineers sitting around a table trying to figure out what women might want to put on their faces or use during their periods is, honestly, hilarious. I have this picture in my head of these middle-aged nerdy smart dudes sitting in a conference room with a pile of makeup and tampons, trying to figure out what to do with them… I love it.

So it appears that Twitter freaked out because, you know, feminism and stuff. How dare those engineers tell female astronauts that they have to wear makeup?! Honestly, my first thought was something along those lines, but then I actually read the story and I’m kind of impressed by the progressive attitude that NASA had toward their female engineers in 1978.

According to Sally Ride, who was among the first female astronauts, for her incoming class in 1978, NASA chose male engineers who had worked with or didn’t mind working with women. That alone is impressive. My mom was in the workforce in 1978, in a completely male-dominated industry (manufacturing), and they sure as hell didn’t bother finding men who didn’t mind working with women. I’ve heard so many horror stories about the things that she experienced, and it took a long time for those attitudes to change.

With the makeup kits, the products that female astronauts were allowed to take into space were rigorously tested for safety. I didn’t think about this, but any product dust or flakes or whatever can damage not only equipment but also your lungs, so it’s really hard to find things to put in that kit. The stuff they originally included was like mascara, a liquid eyeshadow, makeup remover, eyeliner, lipstick and blush. That’s it. That’s like bare minimum for someone who wears makeup on the regular. It also wasn’t compulsory, so someone like Sally Ride who wasn’t interested in makeup didn’t have to wear it. It’s just one of the ways NASA was trying to make life a little easier for these women who were pioneers in their fields, and I think that’s pretty cool.

Also, that’s a really pretty blush.

If you were going into space, what would you want to take with you?

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