People often think that Bon Iver’s song “Skinny Love” is about eating disorders, but the band’s founder, Justin Vernon, says that it is really about loss.
In an interview with Pitchfork, Vernon said that the song was mostly about loss and not about illness or eating disorders. He said it was about a certain time in a relationship that was falling apart, when one person stayed in the relationship more for help than love. The phrase “skinny love” refers to a love that lacks depth and food, which makes it weak.
Vernon’s breakup with his girlfriend, Christy Smith, caused the mental pain in the song. In the wake of problems with his band and relationship, it’s understandable that he holds to a love that seems doomed and begs for it to last even though it seems to end.
The song on their first record, “For Emma, Forever Ago,” has a lot of emotional weight for Vernon. It describes a time in a relationship that is falling apart when one person clings to love out of necessity rather than love.