Constellation – Toys

Barthes argues that “French toys always mean something, and this something is always entirely socialized, constituted by the myths or the techniques of modern adult life” (Barthes, Howard and Lavers, n.d.) Therefore, he would argue that designers should consider the wider impact of the toys so that children aren’t socialised into believing that one day they will be what that toy is. For example, having a toy kitchen or a baby doll prepares a girl for motherhood and a housewife. This highlights that children are being ‘conditioned’ into their future selves through toys and how they’re expected to behave when they’re older. Although, ‘lettoysbetoys’ argue that “Toys focused on action, construction and technology hone spatial skills, foster problem solving and encourage children to be active. Toys focused on role play and small-scale theatre allow them to practise social skills. Arts & crafts are good for fine motor skills and perseverance.” (Let Toys Be Toys, 2019) This emphasises that actually toys are a positive thing as they teach children a whole range of skills which they will need during adult life. Also, it argues directly against Barthes point as he believes toys condition the children into adult life and whatever toys they play with will have encourage them to chose what career path they take, making it sound like it is a bad thing due to it categorising them on what they like to play with. Whereas ‘lettoysbetoys’ reinforce that these toys allow children to produce the skills needed for adult life and in a way prepares them for what is to come, highlighting that the way designers design toys shouldn’t be changed as toys allow children to gain skills that they wouldn’t get anywhere else. Also, the way they are designed is meant to have a bigger impact on them so they can learn from the act of play.


Barthes, R., Howard, R. and Lavers, A. (n.d.). (1984) Mythologies, page 53

Let Toys Be Toys. (2019). Why it Matters. [online] Available at:

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