Like many piercings of primarily contemporary origin, those that adorn the upper lip stem from a vast array of popular and cultural inspirations, including some of the most revered American icons.
The Monroe, for example, of course takes its name from legendary beauty Marilyn Monroe. But piercings in this area on either side of the nose are also known as Madonnas, or even Crawfords, citing the famous mole of supermodel Cindy Crawford. All three women bore such distinctive beauty marks, Monroe and Crawford on their left side, and Madonna on the right (though the illustrious Madge eventually had hers removed).
A piercing in the center of the upper lip, just above the cupid’s bow, is also laden with cultural references, being generally referred to as a “Medusa,” alluding to the infamous Grecian gargoyle who could turn men to stone with her gaze. When a Medusa is performed vertically however, it’s most often called a Jestrum, rumored to have attained its odd moniker via the first person known to wear the piercing, Jesika Bornsen.
Tribal lip piercing and even stretching have also heavily influenced the modern piercing scene in recent years, with African, American Indian, and South American cultural practices filtering into the modern primitives movement. It remains to be seen how these and other inspirations will continue to affect the modifications of our future, but we can rest assured that lip piercings and the like will only grow bigger and better as time goes on.