Toronto gives Miss Universe cold shoulder

The city of Toronto, which years ago prevented the Barenaked Ladies from playing at City Hall because of the group's name, has now barred Canada's own Miss Universe from opening up a festival our of fears of sexual stereotyping.

The city of Toronto, which years ago prevented the Barenaked Ladies from playing at City Hall because of the group's name, has now barred Miss Universe from opening a festival over concerns about sexual stereotyping.

"I was a little bit hurt by the whole thing. I love Toronto. It's my hometown," said Natalie Glebova, the 23-year-old Canadian woman who captured the Miss Universe title in Bangkok in May.

"I definitely don't think that the Miss Universe title is any kind of stereotype or sexual stereotype."

Glebova was set to open the Tastes of Thailand festival last weekend at Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square. But the Thai Trade Centre received word that Glebova would not be allowed to act in her capacity as Miss Universe.

According to a city bylaw, "activities which degrade men or women through sexual stereotyping, or exploit the bodies of men, women, boys or girls solely for the purpose of attracting attention," are not permitted on Nathan Phillips Square.

Glebova could still open the festival, organizers were told, but under strict conditions. She couldn't wear her sash or tiara, and couldn't be referred to as either Miss Universe or a beauty queen.

Instead, organizers were told, they could refer to her as "an individual of note contributing to our community."

A city spokesman said bureaucrats were only enforcing the rules, adding that council would have to amend the bylaw in order to change the policy.

Miss Universe Organization president Paula Shugart called the decision "an insult," not only to Glebova but to the Thai government, which named her as an honorary ambassador following her crowning in the nation's capital.

"I have never been in a situation where someone has gone out of their way to un-invite a Miss Universe title-holder," Shugart told the Toronto Sun.

This is not the first time Toronto has been accused of being super-sensitive over matters related to sexual stereotyping.

In 1992, then Toronto mayor June Rowlands banned the Barenaked Ladies from playing in Nathan Phillips Square, saying she felt the name objectified women.

The Scarborough-based pop-rock band has since gone on to international fame.