Lindsay Lohan has taken a lot of awful pictures over the last seven or eight years. Between looking too skinny, looking to drunk, looking coked out or looking like a stuck up mean girl, her image progressively moved away from the actress we all knew and loved circa 2004 and morphed into an almost unrecognizable Hollywood disaster. What you see above, however, is a huge step in the right direction. Rather than a mess, Lohan looks like a normal, likeable girl you might actually be excited about your son dating.

The last several months have been nothing but forward progress for Lohan. After being forced into rehab by a plea agreement related to an extremely shady accident in which she lied to police, the actress took a long hard look at herself in the mirror and decided to change. She started booting her friends who are toxic influences. She started requesting alcohol be removed from her dressing room and hotels and most importantly of all, she seemingly recognized she doesn’t have a ton of second chances left. So, she’s making the most of this opportunity in front of her, and so far, it’s full steam ahead.

Her guest hosting stint on Chelsea Lately was very well received. She was just hired on to play a role in Eastbound & Down, and her performance in The Canyons is actually the best she’s given in years. She must feel like the weight of the world is off her shoulders, and you can really tell in the way she looks. Here’s another photograph that her popped up on her Instagram account earlier this week…

As we’ve seen so many times in Hollywood, however, it’s really the long-term prognosis that counts. Lohan has put herself in a great position to stay off drugs and alcohol over the long haul, but she needs to prove she can do it one day at a time. There’s still a lot of cynicism out there among the general public, and I’m sure that means there’s a lot of cynicism around movie executives. She’s going to need to start winning those men and women over if she ever wants to reclaim her former glory, and the best way to do that is to stay out of trouble. No more late night clubbing. No more shady parties. She needs to go for lunch dates. She needs to read books and maybe go bowling. She needs to spend her time in places where trouble doesn’t follow, and if she does that, there’s no reason to think she won’t be successful.

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