DEAR ABBY: I recently gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. She's now 7 weeks old, and I am just now getting to where I can start exercising to get the baby fat off.

Today, when I was at the grocery store, I bought some control-top pantyhose. When I got to the register and the cashier rang them up, the automatic coupon printer printed out an advertisement for a brand of ice cream. Personally, I felt humiliated and insulted. They were implying that if I needed the "big girl" pantyhose, that I would automatically want ice cream.

This is just more proof that our country is in crisis! More than half the population of the U.S. is overweight, and advertisers are playing to their weaknesses. That's no way to help the current situation. It's almost like they WANT us to stay fat.

"" NEW MOM, MIDDLEBURG, FLA.

DEAR NEW MOM: The machine that printed out the coupon for ice cream was not trying to send you a personal message. A supermarket manager here in Los Angeles explained to me that these coupons can be triggered by the purchase of a similar product or anything you may have purchased that is put out by the same manufacturer. (I doubt that fresh fruits and veggies are ever among the freebies offered with those coupons.)

While I agree that many people in this country have weight issues, in this case your grocer was not trying to insult you, only drum up a little more business.

DEAR ABBY: I am 9, and my friends "Amber" and "Hunter" constantly pick fights with me. Sometimes the fights are about who's first in line, or who has the most pencils. Amber is the hardest to be with. She picks these little fights every day. Once we had a huge fight about staying friends. Our teacher took us into the library and told us that we were in the same "boat" and to work it out.

Amber promised to try and stop it, and we made up. But the next day she was back at it again.

I think Amber and Hunter talk about me behind my back. Whenever they're mad at each other, they come to me and say all the horrible things that the other person has done. Once on a field trip, they got another girl to come with them while we were in a fight, and she made fun of me.

Every time we get into quarrels, we make up. But I feel like they are controlling me. I have gone along with it, but I can't stand it anymore. I don't want to be in the same "boat" with them anymore. Please help. Am I the bad guy?

"" LOST IN ARIZONA

DEAR LOST: You're not the "bad guy." Amber may have some issues going on in her life that she can't control &

and that's why she's trying to control you. In other words, her compulsion to dominate may be because she's really insecure inside.

Because you don't want to be in Amber's boat anymore, it's time to spend a little time paddling in another direction. If there are sports, clubs or special-interest groups at school &

or after school &

check them out. It will give you not only a chance to learn something new, but also let you interact with other girls and get to know them. That way you will widen your circle of friends &

and that might not be a bad thing at all.

Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.