Margaret Atwood's poem "This is a Photograph of Me" is concerned with appearances versus reality. As the poem progresses, the speaker leads the reader from what first appears as "blurred lines and grey flecks."
then, as you scan
The images are seen by "you" who sees "a thing that is like a branch," which symbolizes the female; then, "you" perceives "a small frame house," symbolic of the male. As Atwood was concerned with the female status as a commodity for commercialization, the branch often finds itself as part of a frame house in a commercial venture.
In the background there is a lake,
and beyond that some low hills,....
I am in the lake in the center
The last line of the poem changes from "you" to "I" who is submerged in the background of the photograph, "taken the day after I drowned." Thus, rather than revealing the speaker, the photograph of the water distorts and obscures the speaker's identity, hiding her. For, it is the unreal self, the appearance of the speaker in her role as female, that has been in reality.