Miss Colombia contestants.
The joints in question belong to one Diana Salgado Salazar, 25, who is evidently a formidable woman.
But there's a problem with her rear end. It's too big, or so some people say – and thereby hangs a tale of betrayal, shame, courage and vindication. In other words, it's November in South America, and that means just one thing. It's time for the Miss Colombia beauty pageant.
When it comes to feminine pulchritude, human passion and good old-fashioned politics – all enlivened by a generous dollop of scandal – the yearly competition to be crowned Colombia's most beautiful woman is likely equalled by no other contest on Earth, with the possible exception of the national beauty extravaganza in neighbouring Venezuela, a sore point among Colombians. But never mind.
This year's version of the Andean nation's annual celebration of feminine curves and girlish wiles has delivered full value on every front.
"It's the most important thing in the country this month," says Mauricio Jiménez, who has fashioned the striking coiffures of many Miss Colombia hopefuls in pageants past and who now plies his trade at a Yorkville beauty parlour. "The whole country stops."
Forget illegal drugs, civil war and coffee – the three commodities that tend to define Colombia's image for much of the world. Jiménez's birthplace offers far more than that.
Representing 24 of their country's 32 provinces, two dozen smashing young representatives of Colombian womanhood have spent the past fortnight swanning around the Caribbean resort of Cartagena de Indias, trailed by reporters and camera crews from all over the land recording every titter, every playfully tossed head, every gleaming, impromptu smile for the benefit of a rapt nation.
Except for soccer, it is unlikely Colombia's national id is ever more aroused than during the two weeks that precede the yearly Miss Colombia beauty pageant.
"It's a source of happiness," says Adriana de Francisco, now of Aurora, who should know. Both her mother and younger sister were Miss Colombia finalists, one in 1957, the other in 1985. "It's a form of escapism. They stop reporting the violence to cover the pageant. Everyone follows the news."
For two glorious weeks, children in Cartagena are let out of school and an entire nation forgets its troubles, gathering in front of countless TV sets to follow the build-up to the grand finale, which unfolds on Monday at 8:30 p.m.
Merely consider the trials of Salgado Salazar, who was to be the regional queen representing Valle del Cauca in this year's pageant. Instead, on Sept. 30, provincial organizers deprived Salgado of her local crown after she reportedly gained five kilograms in what would seem to be the wrong place – her hips.
"She's huge," says Jiménez, who knows how to call a spade a spade.
Even the woman's lawyer admitted as much. "She was pressured to abandon her place and her crown for the sole fact that she has a very large derrière," says Abelardo de la Espriella.
But Salgado did not accept her dismissal quietly and her subsequent struggle for redemption has been the dramatic highlight of this year's Concurso Nacional de Belleza.
Originally, the Miss Colombia beauty extravaganza was the exclusive preserve of the country's social elite, who used the contest as a means of affirming their economic status and cultural values.
The annual contest also served as a way of legitimizing state authority, as when Colombian dictator Gustavo Rojas Pinilla in 1953 personally placed the crown of victory upon the comely forehead of that year's winner.
Given the pageant's central place in Colombia's collective imagination, it was probably inevitable the drug cartels would get involved.
"There have been scandals," says Rodrigo Beltrán, a journalist who has covered 14 of the competitions. "Some of the girls have been financed by narco-traffickers."
By most accounts, the pageant has successfully distanced itself from the drug world in recent years, but the taint persists. Many Colombians are convinced the long shadow cast by the cocaine industry is chiefly to blame for a stubborn and frustrating truth – only once has a winner of the Miss Colombia pageant gone on to be crowned Miss Universe.
That signal event occurred in 1958 and Luz Marina Zuluaga received a mansion and tax-exempt status for life as a reward for her achievement, yet to be repeated.
Meanwhile, the beauty queen representing neighbouring Venezuela has won the same contest six times, producing both the reigning Miss Universe, Stefanía Fernández, and her predecessor, Dayana Mendoza. Only Miss USA, with seven Miss Universe titles, has collected the global prize more often. Miss Canada has won twice.
"Colombian girls are very pretty," says de Francisco. "But Colombia is the No. 1 drug country in the world. They don't want Colombia to win this prize."
Still, their country's lamentable lack of success on the international stage won't deter millions of Colombians from tuning in to Monday night's broadcast of the pageant's final chapter.
So far, the clear front-runner is Natalia Navarro Galvis, 21, competing as Miss Bolívar. Not only has she won the BodyTech award for having the best figure in the competition, she also took the Jolie de Vogue prize for having the most beautiful face. These achievements give Navarro a daunting lead going into Monday's final, because the Miss Colombia pageant is first and foremost a beauty contest.
"The people like to see somebody intelligent these days," says Jiménez. "But 80 per cent is the prettiness."
Where that leaves Miss Valle del Cauca, it's hard to say. After her disqualification over the question of her hip size, Salgado sought a court ruling to revive her candidacy. She won that round and rejoined the competition already underway. Her replacement, Catalina Robayo, was obliged to step aside.
"I have discovered that in this pageant there are a lot of intrigues," Salgado told the Colombian magazine Cromos. "But I'm going to enjoy the party in peace."
May the best woman win.