Navy veteran defends baby photo after critics call it 'disrespectful' and 'disgusting'

VIRGINIA BEACH, Virginia -- A photographer is defending the photo she has taken of a newborn baby.

Critics on Facebook have slammed Vanessa Hicks’ photograph, calling it disrespectful, rude, tacky and even disgusting.

But Hicks is standing behind her work.

So what kind of baby photo could elicit such a strong reaction from so many people?

The image shows the baby sleeping in an American flag being held at either end by the hands of someone in a military uniform.

Hicks said when she came up with the idea for the photo she meant for it to stand for pride and honor.

“I do believe that this picture right here shows what it means to be an American,” Hicks told WTKR.

But a Facebook page titled ‘You Call Yourself a Photographer’ has reposted that photo and writing in part:

This flag is a symbol of everything my son died for many years ago. It was of the utmost honor to have a flag laid upon your coffin as my son did. That honor is taken away when disrespectful photographers throw our flag code out the window. Although you can't see it anymore, I posted another picture from this same photographer a few minutes ago who had a naked baby on that same flag I laid upon my son's casket. She allowed that baby to pee and poop on that flag that is meant to honor our fallen soldiers. Disgusting.

Hicks, who joined the Navy herself right out of school, says she is now getting messages from ‘cyber bullies’ but she says she is not backing down.

“That flag, the uniform, that baby–exactly what every service member is out there fighting ,” she told WTKR.

Hick served for four years and is now married to a sailor who is deployed.

She said this photo represents everything she and other sailors have fought for.

“I hope that other people want this pose,” she told WTKR. “I will absolutely do it and share it proudly.”